The Best Way to Ruin a Day

My precious, determined and motivated almost 9-year-old daughter has been faithfully working out for the last few days every single morning before school. I am so proud of her, watching her grow stronger and more confident the more she does these workouts, and it’s certainly put some pep in her step!

So this morning she awoke and did her workout as usual, but then, I noticed a gloomy look on her face and I asked her what was wrong and if she was ok. It didn’t seem to fit her normal enthusiasm she has had as of late!

She began to spout off things that weren’t fair in her life, a lot of them pertaining to her brother. I think this was especially spurred on by him being home sick this morning, and she was feeling a little envious.

As we dialogued about her struggles,  I felt compassion for her and struggled to hold my tears back at points. I get it.  The struggle with fairness has been one that I’ve had to deal with over the years.

I have this conversation with my kids fairly often if they come to me with things that don’t feel fair in their lives. I have to remind them in return that, if I were to keep a “fair score”, my sickness as I deal with MS doesn’t feel fair at all!  As I look around at friends, family and in the world in general sometime, I wonder what it must feel like to just be able to feel good most of the time. To be able to wake up in the morning and not wonder how much feeling I will have in my hands, and if my legs will be strong enough to carry me and do all the things I need to do in my day, as a mom and a wife. It doesn’t seem fair. And it certainly doesn’t seem fair that some of the most amazing people I know are dealing with cancer and just trying to save their own life. Or for the husband or wife who has lost their spouse, it certainly isn’t fair that they are now stuck trying to get by as a single parent, something I’m sure they didn’t ask or sign up for when they got married!

But do we really want fair?

As I processed with my daughter this morning, the thing that saddened me the most was how her posture and her whole demeanor became more angry and frustrated as she sat in that place and spoke of how unfair some things were that she has to deal with. I could tell it was taking her to a very negative place in her heart.

But if we were honest with ourselves, haven’t we all felt like that at some point? I know I have.

As I have processed through this same issue over the years, I have found in my own journey that hand-in-hand with the issue of fairness always comes the issue of comparison, and what a dark path to head down! 

Comparison is a deadly trap; it is a thief and it always comes to steal our joy! 

The danger of comparison is if you have the advantage over others in your mind, it’s easy to begin to feel pride take it’s hold on your heart; and if you come up short, you feel shame and failure begin to do the same! It’s a dangerous game you can’t win either way! 

I have certainly struggled over the years in my own story, and still have to fight through these feelings still from time to time, but God has shown me a safe place to land in my heart– to remember that I have my own journey, my own story. It is unique and is unlike anyone else’s. It’s not about fair, it’s about finding out what He has for me

This has been a game-changer in my life: to quit looking at what is or isn’t fair but to find value and treasure in my own journey. To know that God wants the absolute best for my life and has me on my own unique path, and it’s not always going to look like anyone else’s.

One great way that I have found to combat the comparisons to others is begin to look at the strengths that God has placed inside of me, and begin to maximize them the best I can, instead of worrying about what others are doing. I then begin to find a thankful heart by thanking Him for the strengths he has placed in me! A thankful heart will ALWAYS trumps an ungrateful bitter spirit. It always puts me in a much better place when I can do this practice, and I wind up feeling refreshed as I recall God’s work in my life, instead of discouragement about what isn’t going well for me.

Quitting the game of fairness and comparison has helped me find new freedom and new joy. It has helped me to be able to genuinely celebrate with others when maybe they have something that I would love to have, or are doing something I would love to do. They have their journey and I have mine! I believe this has now made me a better friend, a happier wife and mom and it has taken the pressure off of me to be like anyone else, and just to enjoy being myself!

I pray that even today you are able to begin to get off the roller-coaster ride of fairness and comparison. I pray you begin to see places where you have had this same struggle and that you can begin to make the choice to allow God to change your inner dialogue and help you think differently. May you find freedom in your journey like I have. I don’t want fair anymore, I want all that God has for me. It may not always look like fair, but it’s going to be good. xo

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Two are better than one

They say a picture is worth a thousand years…
 
I wish we had a camera to capture the moment that I was able to walk across a field outdoors this afternoon, but only because I was gripping the hand of an amazing woman on either side as they literally had to hold me up to keep me from stumbling and falling, due to balance and weakness issues. (I’m sure the wedges I was wearing  for our photo shoot didn’t help either. Ha!)
 
My heart is sad that my legs have really been struggling in the last few days; but in that moment this afternoon none of it mattered, as tears filled my eyes and I had a glimpse again of how life is meant to be lived. Together, in community, as a team, occasionally the stronger arms needing to hold up one who might be struggling for the moment.
 
It’s humbling to be the one who needs the help but I know one day I will be the one helping hold another up. Don’t fool yourself and think you can do life alone. It may be possible temporarily but you will miss out on so much joy from community if you do so, and the load could quickly become too much to bear.
 
God created us to do life together, and it truly does lighten our load when we let another help carry it. 💜 
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Deliverance in the midst of trouble

I believe that God sometimes wants to deliver us THROUGH our troubles, instead of just delivering us OUT of our troubles.

I have been dealing with with a very sore tooth off and on for the last 5 years since I had a cavity filled, as well as getting it crowned, and the nerve has never been very happy since then. It has been so incredibly painful for me, for weeks at a time each time, as I’ve dealt with this tooth and it’s issues, but I had been fortunate enough so far to be able to get inflammation down naturally through diet and supplements every time it would flare up.

However, when it began to flare up again last Friday, my heart sank because I’ve been through so much physical pain lately and I honestly felt like I had reached the end of what I could even deal with. I really began praying for God to take the pain away again or to please show me if I just needed to get this taken care of, instead of trying to spend weeks in pain fighting it naturally, per the usual.

The pain continued to only get worse as the weekend went on, so I made a phone call yesterday morning to see if my favorite endodontist, who only works at the Thompson Station location one day a month, was available soon–and of course, wouldnt you know it, He just happened to be here the very next day. (today) Such a clear sign to me that God was providing a way for me to get this taken care of, and quickly!

I admit– I felt like a bit of a failure that I couldn’t seem to get my body to heal the way I wanted it to even though I had worked so hard, and also a bit disappointed that God wasn’t just giving me some miraculous healing and taking the pain away right then and there.

However, as I went through with this root canal procedure today, God began showing me how important our troubles can be in our lives, because it’s an opportunity for him to show us who He is!

I believe miracles are amazing and I personally love the miraculous, but as I grow in my christian walk, I’m finding that sometimes while we are concerned about the end result, God is more concerned about our journey getting there, and ultimately, our hearts.

What I’m realizing more and more is: we cannot know him as our great healer if we never deal with sickness; we cannot know him as our comforter if we never deal with loss and grief; He can never show us his power and strength if we never experience weakness; He cannot show us what a great provider he is unless we experience lack in our lives. So sometimes while we are praying for him to take trials out of our lives, he actually wants us to walk through them with him by our side, so he can show us who He is–and who we are, too!

I believe God was wanting me to walk through this experience with this root canal today because he knew I was afraid of having another one done…I’ve heard stories of how it can cause harm to your health, among other reasons, and so therefore I began to put God in a box, in terms of how I thought he should deliver me. But this time, he didn’t deliver me OUT of my situation but instead walked me THROUGH the very thing I was afraid of, while showing me his power, his provision and his healing through getting this root canal!

After what I experienced today, I want to start praying differently. I want to have a heart that is willing to walk through these trials in life, so I am able to see all the ways God is going to show up and show me his deliverance IN THE MIDST of my trials. In this way, I believe this will make his name great and so many others will most certainly be impacted by the things we are walking through, and will be able to see how God is delivering us in the midst of it!

Be encouraged if you are walking through a trial–God is bringing deliverance and He will bring you out on the other side, all while showing you his faithfulness and goodness!

PSALM 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of a Story

I had an incredible opportunity to share my story of how I’m journeying through chronic illness as I deal with MS, this week on the CourageCast podcast!

I hope you are able to hop over to the link provided below, and take a listen to all 3 days where I am interviewed by Eric Nordhoff! And most of all, I hope you all are encouraged as you journey through your own hard places in life, remembering that you are not alone in whatever you’re walking through!

 

Part 1: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414779-104-elizabeth-taylor-courage-through-a-chronic-illness

Part 2: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414780-105-elizabeth-taylor-the-antidote-for-despair

Part 3: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414801-106-elizabeth-taylor-not-without-hope

 

I would love your thoughts after you listen, so please feel free to come back here and leave a comment on anything you would add, if you’ve experienced some of the same things I have, etc!

 

 

Learning to receive

How well we are able to receive is just as important as how well we are able to give. 💜

It takes a lot of humility to allow others to serve and bless us, and I’m realizing how at times we could even miss out on ways God wants to bless us and give us good gifts, when we struggle with humbling ourselves enough to allow Him to do just that–and most of the time, through those around us!

At times I know I’ve struggled with allll the needs I seem to have, and become concerned that although they are very real, wearying others with my constant issues. I have never once been treated that way though, and I am continually contacted with offers to help, meals dropped off, prayers, help with my kids, reduced fees for medical issues. So if these are humans like you and I offering so much generosity, that is only a small glimpse of how a perfect God feels towards us. He never wearies of our needs, and loves to come and rescue and save us–EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I am truly grateful, humbled and moved to tears by so many of you who have continually served and given so much to my family and I in the last few years, as I have dealt with this ugly disease, MS, that I still believe I WILL get the upper hand on one day soon! I’ve come to realize there is no way I could ever repay, nor do I need to, because I’m trying to learn how to receive these as gifts from God. And you should do the same! 🙂 Please know how moved my heart is by all of the kindnesses shown to me, and I pray you all receive so much blessing in return!

I hope this reminder encourages you to find the courage to reach out, ask for help and receive what is offered.You might be surprised as I have been, by the extravagance shown, and it will bring others joy to be able to serve you.

I can’t wait to be on the giving end again, but in the meantime, I’m grateful God is teaching me how to be a good receiver!

 

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

 

 

Humbled and deeply loved

light-in-heart

 

 

It is humbling to experience so much kindness and so many prayers from many amazing people in my life who I know are cheering me on lately. You all encourage me greatly!

It is humbling to take a walk tonight and realize that my 34 yr old legs feel more like a 70 year old’s. They seem to have gotten worse over the last week and I only pray that this will not progress and worsen. My feet feel like I’m walking on pin cushions, my legs felt heavy to lift and more difficult to move and I found myself wondering if I need to replace my cane that never showed up with our stuff after we moved last year….

It is humbling to realize how little control we truly have in life. As much as I am fighting this illness in my head right now, I feel changes in my body that I literally cannot get to stop. This is why I am thankful my trust is in God, because I know he in control even though I am clearly not. He knows my future and is writing my story. Just not sure at this point how in the world it’s going to turn out. ha

It is humbling to have to create a plan for a friend to help out when my husband is traveling again next week if needed. I never dreamed I would be in the place where I would be making decisions like this and having to worry about whether or not I would be able to take care of my children and my home alone without help.

It is humbling to know I have so many incredible people in my life who would do anything for me. Having a support system like this helps me not feel so scared or alone. I am truly grateful.

And more than anything, it is humbling to know how deeply I am loved by God. Even when I am afraid, I know He still has a plan and purpose for my life and in the end, everything really will be ok.

In closing, I went old school today and was listening to Crystal Lewis’s Beauty for Ashes song….it was just what my heart needed. The lyrics comforted me greatly as I felt God speaking them to my heart:

 

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

Day 22: Happy Fathers day and Husband caregiver day

Tears filled my eyes a few days ago when I saw there really is a national Husband caregiver day, to go along with the beloved Father’s day that we all know.

I  have a husband who knows far too well, both of these roles.

Neither of us knew when we got married at 19 & 25 years old, the things we would soon walk through. That he would have to care for me at times when I would struggle to care for myself. That he would have to somehow find a way to manage our kids, our household and my care all while trying to have a career. But as I have gotten diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis almost 10 years ago, that is exactly what he has done.

That takes so much courage, strength and fortitude. And somehow he’s doing it, all by the grace of God.

There are days I haven’t been sure how bad things will get  with my health and I have wondered the extent of the care he would have to provide for me, and yet he doesn’t complain or blink an eye at the work it takes.

He has grown so much in patience and kindness over the years as he has sat with me while I cry, or I’m so afraid, or I simply just can’t move.

He has quickly stepped up to the plate in loving on our kids and providing the stability they need when clearly, sickness doesn’t always provide that.

He has also helped to keep our home beautiful when everything else seems like it’s falling apart, and when I’m unable to contribute.

You all see an awesome friend, a man of God, a hard worker—and I get to see that and even so much more.

He is truly the rock of our home, and I am so grateful for all he has done for our family to get us through the last 14 years of marriage and kids.

And so I dedicate this blog post to him today, as a tribute and public recognition of the incredible man that he is. I am so thankful and honored to be his wife and to be raising our beautiful kids together while we walk this journey. As painful at times as it is, there is also so much beauty to be found in the midst of it.

Happy Fathers day and Husband Caregiver day! You are more than I could have even prayed for! I love you!

Day 21:Keto on….the doctor is in!

imageWell, my doctor (Dr. Hutton)  joined in and got on board with the ketogenic diet yesterday, and apparently that’s all I needed to mentally kick it into high gear.

I have been struggling LIKE CRAZY. Talk about walking around feeling like a total failure at the whole thing, but not for lack of trying, that’s for sure! It has been rough, and very humbling for me.

So when I heard he was starting and was planning to be into ketosis in about 24 hours, that was just the motivation I needed to charge ahead. There’s no way I was not going to let him beat me there! 😉 I’m glad he doesn’t follow me on social media or I would have to confess all this to him, although I did tell him he is now my competition. haha

I realized a very important thing today, and I have to give my amazing husband credit for this….he said I should aim for 0 grams of carbs so I could hit around 15 grams of carbs or less. And guess what? It worked! I feel so much more successful after today and hope to have an amazing day hitting my macros tomorrow as well. I think my biggest challenge has been finding the right things to eat. It has been such a big learning curve for me!

Maybe this is pathetic but I was almost in tears this evening when I saw my chart and how I KILLED my macros today. I hit everything pretty close to dead-on to my goals! (My goals being 100 grams of fat, 50 grams of protein, less than 20 grams of carbs)

In addition to all of that, It was a very emotionally challenging day for me as I’ve been with some stuff in my right leg that has had me about scared out of my mind that I am going into a relapse, so I’m trying to get the pain and discomfort under control.

I have more to say about all of that in another post but I tell ya what, it takes up a lot of head space fighting fear, which is what makes today’s victory even more amazing. Today was a reminder to me of why I do what I do. Why I even work so hard to do this diet for my brain. I need it. I hate fear. I hate how it wants to run my life, and I refuse to let it. I truly cannot afford to let it have any place in my heart!

Anyway, thank-you God for your grace and for the small but important victory today. I needed it.

Cheers to all of you who are working so hard, and are kicking butt! I know it is not easy!

 

Keto on.

 

Day 20: What is defining you?

Ok first– wow, sorry I went MIA for a bit there!

Life has been a little crazy, a little hard, a little painful and also just busy in a good way for the last week so I had to make the decision to set aside blogging until things slowed down from my trip, my birthday festivities and dealing with some personal painful situations I have been walking through.

 

But….I’m back now!  🙂

I had a situation this afternoon where I was at the pool with my kids in the HOT Tennessee  sun. After about an hour, I felt myself overheating and had to rush the kids home pretty quickly so I could get out of it as quickly as possible.

I felt my left eye (the one that lost most of the eyesight temporarily back in 2006 due to an MS episode) get a little blurry and spotty and then I really knew I had overdone it!

I was disappointed because a friend of mine had invited me to attend a exercise weight class with her tonight, and I was REALLY looking forward to it!

As I reluctantly texted her and told her I couldn’t make it due to apparently too much heat and sun, I felt the old familiar sting of frustration hit me as I remembered what I deal with and how hard it is sometimes to feel held back from what I think is no big deal for everyone else, and how nice it must be to have their body cooperate with them a little more than mine does. (maybe not always true, but that’s how I was feeling at the time ;))

As quickly as I felt the first thoughts and emotion hit me, than just as quickly I felt something rise up within me reminding me that I get to choose what defines me! I can choose to be defined by my limitations or I can choose to be defined by who God says I am! 

My limitations tell me things: like I am weak, I can’t keep up with everyone else, I will always be held back by my illness, I can’t do the things I want to do, etc etc.

But God tells me: I am strong, I am capable, I am victorious, I can do all the things He has called me to do because of his strength, nothing is impossible for me as long as He is involved.

Every day in the smallest of situations, in the briefest of thoughts, we are constantly making choices in our minds, the place where our the biggest battlefield lies. The choice we are always confronted with is: What are we going to choose to believe?

Our limitations tell us lies but God always speaks the truth to our hearts.

We cannot afford to forget that we have an enemy of our soul who is fighting to keep us held down, to keep us from believing that we are truly victorious; but our God is on the other side declaring over us that He loves us, He has a plan for our lives, He is for us and NOT against us.

I don’t know about you but I REFUSE to be defined by my limitations! I am going to make the choice to line my heart and my thoughts up with what God says about me! The enemy only seeks to drag us down, but God has such an amazing way of lifting us up and encouraging us, doesn’t He?

So my question for you today is: What is defining you? What voice are you listening to? Are you allowing yourself to be limited or empowered with the choices you are making?

The challenge is: Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to what you are choosing to believe about yourself and your situations. Make adjustments if needed. Ask God to help you! He will empower you and give you the strength and grace you need to believe His truth.

Day 16: Am I dreaming?

I’ve been thinking so much today about dreaming, and how important it is to our vitality.

I believe God has placed dreams in each of our hearts, things He has created us to do, to be in our lifetime.

I found myself in tears tonight, telling a few friends close to me about one of my biggest dreams, something I would love to accomplish as a way to help others, if it’s the last thing I do before I die. It moved me that deeply.

It reminded me how important it is not to waste our time, because life is too short and there is much to accomplish!

Some of the biggest time wasters I can think of off the top of my head:  Wanting to do something that others see as relevant and important, being too afraid to take the steps, feeling like it’s too hard to get from here to there, believing you don’t have what it takes to get the job done. Wow, so many excuses why we shouldn’t pursue the dreams in our hearts, but I don’t think we will find true passion and fulfillment in our lives unless we do what we’ve been called to do.

I encourage each of you, as well as myself, to not let anything or anyone hold you back! Pay attention to what stirs up passion in your heart and ask God to show you what he has created you for, and then begin to take steps in that direction!

You will never regret dreaming but you will regret letting dreams and passions go to waste. Making our dreams come to pass requires a lot of hard work but with the passion and the power of God in our lives to help carry us through—it is truly possible!!

Let’s each determine to begin to be diligent, intential and aware of what is in our heart and follow our God-given dreams!